Services for prepayment customers

A prepayment meter allows you to pay for your electricity and/or gas before you use it. This document explains the advantages and disadvantages of prepayment meters, how they operate and when we can install one.

A prepayment meter allows you to pay for your electricity and/or gas before you use it.

This is done via a token or key that can be topped up at a paypoint, payzone or post office.

We have some helpful information you can download and print:

Why use a prepayment meter?

  • A prepayment meter can help you manage your energy usage by giving you the ability to pay in advance and choose how much you spend.
  • If you find yourself with an outstanding bill, a prepayment meter can be used to repay this debt in set amounts over an agreed period.
  • There is an emergency credit facility which keeps you on supply when you run out of credit and cannot get to the shops to top up. Remember though, any emergency credit used must be paid back in full when you next top up so only use it for real emergencies.
  • You'll be able to build up credit during the summer months when your usage is likely to be lower in readiness for the winter period.

Before going to prepayment be aware that:

  • If you do not keep your prepayment meter topped up and all credit (including emergency credit) is exhausted, you will find yourself without supply until you top up again.
  • If you're going to be away for a few days or longer you'll need to make sure you have sufficient credit on the meter to cover the standing charges and any usage (such as a fridge or freezer) and any debt repayments that will be taken during that time.
  • Tariff costs are often higher for customers with a prepayment meter.
  • You need to have easy access to a PayPoint or Payzone outlet to top up.
  • Prepayment meters will be more expensive in the winter as your heating and lighting will be on for longer.
  • If you have sight difficulties or other special needs you might find a prepayment meter difficult to use;
  • If you lose or misplace your prepayment device used for topping up the prepayment meter, you will need to request a replacement from us. We may charge you for the cost of this.
  • If, after having a prepayment meter installed, you want to change back to a credit meter, you will need to pay any outstanding account balance. We will need to agree to this change taking place and you may need to pay for a meter exchange.

We will write to you from time to time to advise you of other tariffs and payment options which may be available.

If I have a prepayment meter, what tariff will I be on?

You will be on our Prepayment Standard Variable Tariff, which are reviewed and updated regularly as wholesale energy prices change. We are committed to making sure customers on prepayment meters aren’t trapped on expensive tariffs – and don’t pay any hidden costs. Please speak to our customer care team to find out how much you will pay.

When might a prepayment meter be installed?

We may install a prepayment meter if you have:

  • Requested a prepayment meter in order to better manage your energy usage by paying for it in advance.
  • Requested a prepayment meter to pay an outstanding debt.
  • Defaulted on a previous debt repayment plan.
  • Requested a prepayment meter as an alternative to paying a security deposit, or
  • If no other suitable debt repayment arrangement can be agreed.

We will not charge you to install a prepayment meter. However, we may at our discretion charge you for additional costs incurred in completing the installation, for example, if we need to apply to a magistrate for a warrant to enter your property.

How long will the switch take?

Switching prepayment meters will take normally around 3 weeks. We’ll provide you with a key for your electricity top-ups and a card for gas.

When will I receive my prepayment key/card?

We will post your devices 5 days before your supply start date, so you’ve got them in plenty of time before you need to top up. You'll need to use all the credit on your existing meters before using your Bristol Energy devices.

User guide

When a prepayment meter is installed at your property youíll be provided with a user guide. Please contact our customer care team if you have any problems or questions about using the prepayment meter or if you need a physical copy or a more comprehensive new user guide.

How to top up a prepayment meter

You can buy credit for a prepayment meter at any PayPoint or Payzone outlet. You can search for PayPoint outlets in your area at, or Payzone at, or by calling Bristol Energy.

When you buy credit at a PayPoint or Payzone outlet, youíll be provided with a receipt. We recommend that you keep these receipts as we may request copies if you ask us to resolve a query.

To avoid paying the wrong price for your energy you must use the prepayment device that we give you to buy credit for your meter.

What happens if my device is lost or doesn't work?

If you lose your prepayment device or it is broken, please call us immediately and weíll send you a new one as soon as possible.

Please note that we may charge you for the costs incurred in providing a new device.

What happens if my prepayment meter is faulty?

If you think your prepayment meter is faulty and you've gone off supply, please call us. We'll try to identify the situation, which may result in us sending an engineer to your home within the following timescales.

For your electricity prepayment meter:

  • Within three hours if your call is received between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (other than Bank Holidays).
  • Within four hours if your call is received between 9am and 2pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.
  • By midday of the next working day if your call is received outside of the above hours.

For your gas prepayment meter:

  • Within four hours if your call is received between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (other than Bank Holidays).
  • Within four hours if your call is received between 9am and 2pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.
  • By midday of the next working day if your call is received outside of the above hours.

If your prepayment meter is faulty and we fail to attend within the agreed appointment time, we will pay you £30 per appointment.

Run out of credit?

If you're without fuel because the meter has run out of credit, we'll normally only respond to a request for a visit under exceptional circumstances. We may also at our discretion charge you for a visit under these circumstances. However, should we decide to charge you for a visit of this type, we will agree the level of the charge with you before the visit is arranged.

Agreeing your debt repayments

When making a debt repayment arrangement, it is important that you give us full details of your circumstances, including any benefits that you may be claiming, so that we can agree a repayment rate with you. It is also important that you tell us if you can afford the weekly repayment amount that we suggest. If you would like to discuss the debt please contact us.

Standard credit meters

Switching to a credit meter is dependent on your circumstances so please contact us so that we can discuss the available options with you:

  • If you wish to replace your prepayment meter and you meet our credit requirements to do so, there will be a fee for the exchange of meters.
  • Should you have a smart meter that we can communicate with, this process is easier and will not require a meter exchange fee.
  • In both cases, we may ask you to pay a security deposit.
  • We will not exchange a prepayment meter for a credit meter if the prepayment meter was fitted to recover a debt and that debt has still not been repaid, unless we are able to agree repayment by an alternative method acceptable to both you and us. Please note that if we do agree to an alternative payment method and then need to reinstall the prepayment meter at a later date because you fail to make the agreed debt repayments we may charge you for this.

If you become unable to pay the agreed debt

If your circumstances change or you cannot afford the agreed debt repayment levels, please contact us. We will try to agree a new debt repayment level with you and arrange for the meter to be readjusted to collect the new amount.

If you need impartial advice, you can contact the organisations listed at the end of this document. They can assist you in understanding how much you can afford to pay and we will work together to agree an acceptable debt repayment level on the basis of their advice.

What happens when the debt has been repaid?

The prepayment meter will continue to allow you to pay for your energy before you use it and you will only pay for any energy used as well as any standing charges. If your meter doesn't automatically reset, please call us. Once your meter has been reset we will send you an updated statement.

What happens if our prices change?

If we change our prices, we will update the tariff on your prepayment meter. We will give you at least 30 days prior notice of this. If the change is a price rise and you do not want this to be applied to you, you can switch away from Bristol Energy by giving us notice (either verbally or in writing) before or on the date when the change is due to take effect. You will also need to arrange for your new supplier to take over your supply within 20 working days of the day you told us you wanted to switch. You can then leave Bristol Energy without the price rise being applied to your account.

As a prepayment customer, if you are repaying a debt to us of £500 or less and your new supplier agrees to take on this debt, we will not object to your switch. If we do object, you have 30 working days from the date we inform you of our objection to your switch to repay the outstanding debt. Once you have done this, you can complete the switch to your new supplier without the price rise being applied to your account.

Emergency credit

Your prepayment meter has an emergency credit facility. This allows you a certain amount of "extra" credit once what you have already paid on the meter has run out.

We recommend that you only use this as a last resort in case you are unable to buy more credit for whatever reason. Normally the emergency credit amount is at least £5.

If you use up all of the available emergency credit without buying more credit for the prepayment meter, your supply for that meter will be disconnected. To reconnect your supply, you will need to buy enough credit to cover the value of the emergency credit used plus at least £1.

Please note that the prepayment meter will also continue to take payment for standing charges and any outstanding debt which youíre repaying to us while it is running in emergency credit mode.

Need to move your prepayment meter?

If you experience difficulties accessing your prepayment meter, we can arrange for an engineer to move it. If you need the meter to be moved a greater distance than we can accommodate, we'll put you in touch with your local electricity network operator or gas transporter to do this.

If you are a pensioner, disabled or chronically ill we will not charge you to move the prepayment meter. Please see our "Helping Vulnerable Households" document for more information.

If you are not eligible for the prepayment meter to be moved free of charge we'll inform you of this and arrange a quote for the work to be carried out. You can then decide whether or not you wish to go ahead with the work.

See details of our energy charges.

Bristol Energy access to your meter

It is important that you allow us access to your prepayment meter when necessary. We may need an exact meter reading, to complete a safety inspection, reset or exchange your meter. Please note that should you fail to grant us access so we then have to apply for a warrant in order to gain access, we may charge you for our costs incurred in doing this.

Your statement of account

An annual statement of account will be sent to you giving details of your energy usage, payments youíve made and any debt which may be outstanding. Alternatively, you can request a statement of account from us at any time.

Energy efficiency advice

Using energy efficiently will help you reduce your bills. We can offer you advice on how to do this.

Please see our energy saving advice.

If you live in Bristol, the Centre for Sustainable Energy, the Bristol Energy Network and Warm Up Bristol are good sources of information.

Moving home or changing supplier

If you move home or switch away from Bristol Energy to another supplier, please do not continue to use the prepayment device.

Please tell us if you are moving home at least two working days before you move out and leave the prepayment device in the property on moving day. If you don't advise us that you're moving, we may continue to charge you until a new tenant or homeowner tells us that they've moved into the property.

If you switch to another supplier, please use the prepayment device that they provide.

If you have moved into a property that we already supply or you have switched to Bristol Energy with an existing prepayment meter at your property, please contact us immediately. Please also provide us with the meter reading on the prepayment meter on the date that you move in. This will help us provide you with accurate statements. If there's no prepayment device at the property, please contact us and we'll arrange for you to be provided with a new one.

Your final statement

If you switch from Bristol Energy to another supplier, we'll send you a final bill based on the final read you provided. You must pay any outstanding debt in full, unless it is less than £500 and your new supplier has agreed to take on that debt.

Useful contacts

Age UK


Tavis House
1-6 Tavistock Square

T: 0800 169 8787


Causewayside House
160 Causewayside

T: 0800 470 8090


Ty John Pathy
13/14 Neptune Court
Vanguard Way
Cardiff, CF24 5PJ

T: 0800 022 3444


Energy Ombudsman

Ombudsman Services: Energy
PO Box 966

T: 0330 440 1624

National Debtline

Telephone: 0808 808 4000

Energy Saving Trust


21 Dartmouth Street

T: 0300 123 1234


Second Floor, Ocean Point 1
94 Ocean Drive, Edinburgh

T: 0808 808 2282


1 Caspian Point, Caspian Way
Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
CF10 4DQ

T: 0300 123 1234

Citizens Advice – Energy

Consumer Service - Telephone: 0808 223 1133

Consumer Service Welsh Speaking - Telephone: 0808 223 1144

The Disabled Living Foundation

Telephone: 0300 999 0004